Branding Basics: Create your Brand With Intention and Purpose
Updated: Mar 19
Being thoughtful and clear about the foundations of your brand is key to building a business you love
Focus On Brand Clarity First
If you're in business today, you know you need to have a brand.
But, if you Google “What is a brand?," you’ll get 18.4 trillion results. And, almost as many definitions.
It seems the only thing everyone can agree on is that ‘brand’ is nebulous term that encapsulates many different things. So, if you’re feeling confused about what it means to have a brand, you’re in good company.
I’m not here to add to your confusion.
Instead, what I want to focus on is the practical way you should think about the term ‘brand’ as it relates to defining and differentiating your business from everyone else.
Whether you sell a product or a service, or you’re creating a personal brand, there are three key steps you should follow when you’re ready to get serious about branding your business or yourself.
1. Get Clear On Your Brand Foundations
Let’s start with the five questions you need to answer to define your brand:
Who is it for?
Why does it exist?
What does it believe or promise?
What makes it different and remarkable?
How does it show up in the world (meaning how does it behave)?
In answering these questions, keep in mind that your ‘brand’ lives above the product or service you sell. Those are your offers and should be the reasons-to-believe your brand and its promise. With this in mind, look beyond your product or service when answering these questions.
2. Make Your Brand Tangible
Once you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to make it tangible to your customers. This involves:
Creating a brand name
Creating a tagline (optional)
Creating a brand identity/logo
Your name, tagline, and logo should be a physical manifestation of the idea you want to own in your customer’s mind. Whole Foods Market and Tiffany & Co. are two iconic brands that use naming and logo design to reinforce their brand idea and appeal to their specific customer.
The Whole Foods Market logo reflects their commitment to customers who value organic foods. The use of “kale green” signals natural and wholesome, and the stylized “O” nods to a fruit or vegetable while making the logo more memorable.
The Tiffany & Co. logo takes a very different approach. It is meant to attract a high-end customer who values timeless quality. The use of simple, highly crafted serif typography signals their premium position. The use of all caps gives the brand stature and confidence.
Personal brands like Oprah and Marie Forleo have also created memorable brand identities that reflect their personality and style, and help them to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
It’s common for businesses to choose a name and design a logo before they’ve defined their brand. However, taking this approach risks creating a name or logo design that doesn’t connect with your target customer, doesn’t reflect the idea or the uniqueness of your brand, conflicts with competitors, and backs you into a corner that inhibits future growth. So if you’re just starting out, resist the temptation to jump to creative executions until you’re clear on your brand foundations.
3. Market Your Brand Consistently
Now that you have these branding basics, you’re ready to market your brand. The very best way to build a brand is to be consistent with how your brand shows up in your marketing. This means:
Establishing a visual identity or a ‘look and feel’ for your brand – a defined set of colors, typefaces, images, etc. that represent your brand everywhere it shows up
Establishing a tone-of-voice that is authentic to your brand
Establishing clear messaging that reinforces your brand idea and unique point of difference (for help with this download my messaging framework)
This type of consistency builds the ‘know, like, and trust’ factor with your audience over time.
Take Away: Build Your Brand With Intention And Purpose
Defining your brand can be challenging because it requires introspection and making considered choices. It means saying “yes” to some things and “no” to others so your customers feel and experience your singular commitment to them.
But the payoff is worth the effort.
Having clarity on your brand foundations will help you focus your resources, sharpen your messaging, inspire marketing content, leverage the right marketing platforms, attract more of your ideal clients, and save you precious time and money.